Millions Who Qualify for Housing Assistance Do Not Receive it

A report from the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC), Trends in Housing Assistance and Who It Serves, finds that publicly supported housing programs assist more than 13.7 million people in America, including 5 million children, 2.8 million seniors, and 2.5 million individuals with disabilities. The report estimates an additional 29.7 million low-income people would benefit if housing assistance was expanded to serve all qualifying households.

Households in publicly supported homes earn an average annual income of $14,347. Only 45% of assisted households have at least one able-bodied working-age family member. Families spent an average of 26 months on waiting lists before receiving housing assistance in 2018, a 44% increase from 2009. The report estimates that expanding rental assistance to all families who earn less than 80% of their state’s median income and pay more than 30% of their annual income toward housing could serve an additional 9.5 million children, 3.5 million elderly, 961,000 veterans, and 4.7 million people with disabilities. Only one in three children in families who qualify for federal rental assistance receives it, impacting their health and educational outcomes.

(Researchers estimate that only one out of four households - versus people - that qualify for rental housing assistance receives it.)

The report recommends increasing the affordable housing stock by reforming local zoning regulations, promoting the construction of accessory dwelling units, converting vacant commercial space into affordable housing, and increasing federal funding for housing programs.

Trends in Housing Assistance and Who It Serves is available at: